In his inaugural message to the 36th Legislative Assembly in 1931, Governor Meier made the following plea for the establishment of a State Police system in Oregon.
CRIME COSTS NATION BILLIONS
Crime has become one of the biggest industries in the United States, its yearly return being approximately $13,000,000,000.
It is estimated that crime costs our nation twice as much as the national budget, more than we loaned our allies during the war, and approximately one-half as much as this country expended in the prosecution of the World War.
Last year approximately 12,000 persons were murdered in this country. This is an appalling figure, representing approximately three times the total loss of life in the Spanish American War.
Oregon is no exception. Like all other states, Oregon has its crime problem, probably not as grave as some, but nevertheless a serious one.
The question naturally arises as to where the blame lies for this deplorable condition.
Dies it lie in our police machinery, our judicial system, or misuse of the parole and pardoning power?
While responsibility probably does not lie wholly at the door of any single one of these agencies, the attempted enforcement of our penal laws by different sets of law enforcing officers, who not only fail to cooperate but are often in opposition to one another, is largely to blame.
We have a set of officers to enforce the game laws, another to enforce forestry laws, another to enforce the traffic laws, another to enforce the prohibition laws, another to enforce the arson laws, and finally sheriffs, constables and policemen, all of them more or less isolated units, to enforce generally the laws of our State and the ordinances of our cities.
CRIME REMEDY IN STATE POLICE
Oregon has no single body whose duty it is to bring to justice those who commit offense against the laws of the state.
Eight American states - New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan and Massachusetts - have instituted State Police Departments, to combat the crime problem, and effect a more efficient administration of our criminal laws generally.
These State Police not only enforce criminal laws generally, but also enforce the traffic, forest, game and prohibition laws.
Probably the three principal factors which are fostering the creation of State Police Departments are the use of automobiles and paved highways in the commission of crime, the necessity for cooperation in rural communities in the apprehension of criminals and the need of organized preventive factors.
In America the sovereign power resides in the people who speak through the law.
Consequently whenever a law is disregarded the sovereignty of the people is challenged and no sovereign power can long endure unless it has the vigor and will to vindicate itself.
The best law badly administered is worse than none.
As executive of the state I am charged with the execution of its laws, and I am convinced that to enable me to rigidly enforce them Oregon must emulate the successful example of other states and establish a State Police System.
It cost the State of Oregon approximately $910,000 during the last biennium to enforce traffic, fish, game, prohibition, forestry and arson laws, and the estimated requirement for the ensuing biennium is $1,088,1000.
A State Police System ought to save the people of Oregon at least one-third and possibly one-half of this huge expenditure.